An MP who has been suspended by Labour over what the party said were “deeply offensive” comments at a pro-Palestine rally is threatening legal action against a Tory MP over a “highly defamatory” accusation that he sought to “justify” Hamas’s murderous attack on Israel.

Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald said he was “not prepared to stand by” while Chris Clarkson or others “peddle the lie” that he sought to justify Hamas’s actions on October 7.

Mr McDonald was suspended by Labour earlier this week after he used the phrase “between the river and the sea” in a speech during a demonstration.

A slogan used by pro-Palestinian demonstrators, “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”, has been described as antisemitic by critics, with Home Secretary Suella Braverman claiming that it is “widely understood” to call for the destruction of Israel.

Mr McDonald, who is sitting as an independent MP while an investigation takes place, said his reference to the phrase was part of a “heartfelt plea” for peace in the region.

His complaint on Thursday centred on a tweet by Mr Clarkson that read: “‘Between the River and the Sea’ is a deeply sinister antisemitic trope – seeing a Labour MP use it whilst seeking to justify the murderous actions of Hamas should be shocking. Sadly, it’s barely surprising.”

Mr McDonald said: “Mr Clarkson’s statement is highly defamatory and caused serious harm to my reputation.

“I am not prepared to stand by, while an MP or others peddle the lie that I have sought to justify the actions of Hamas on October 7 2023, including the awful murder of 1,400 people in Israel.

“Much of what I have said in the last few days about the recent events in Israel and Palestine has been deliberately distorted and misinterpreted… “I am more than prepared to sue anyone who thinks that it is acceptable to publish lies about me.”

He has instructed his solicitors to “take the first steps in commencing legal proceedings against Mr Clarkson by sending him a letter of claim for libel,” he added.

He said that in his October 28 speech to a mass rally, he called for peace in the Israel-Gaza war and for “an immediate comprehensively binding ceasefire”.

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“I said, ‘we will not rest until we have justice. Until all people, Israelis and Palestinians, between the river and the sea, can live in peaceful liberty’.”

Mr McDonald has said he would fully co-operate with the investigation into his suspension and trusted “that the whip will be restored”.

Conservative MP Paul Bristow was sacked from his job as a ministerial aide at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology after urging Rishi Sunak to back a full ceasefire.